Thursday, March 31, 2011


I am being show that is! Exciting to see it all come together finally...

Editing "365 Days of Drawing By Johanna Spinks" was not easy.

It feels like wonderful closure on a year of drawing.

See you tomorrow night for the opening.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

CREAM OF THE CROP? OR NOT. Art competitions...

I found myself painting cream this week in a demo as some major art competitions announced entry results. I also found myself and my art colleagues talking a lot publicly and privately about art competitions: who was the 'cream of the crop', who was in, who was out? Hot or not?

The grit of the art pitter-patter I heard was this:
*do politics come into play? (I take The Fifth on that one).
*are competitions fair?
*how did it ALL get so competitive?
*does an Old Boys' Club exist?
*why do judges miss genius?
*why don't the judges see that blue figurative painting has so many flaws?
*why are the same people getting into competitions and others not?
*what does it take to get into this "... "show, ( fill in the blank)?
* should I quit entering this particular competition?
*should I quit art completely?

The big art show "results" announced within a one week period across the USA this week were from The Portrait Society of America's International Portrait competition and The Oil Painters' of American National Show. There was also a flurry around the California Art Club Gold Medal 100th Anniversary Show opening this weekend, April 2nd, at the Pasadena Museum of California Art.

My painting "Geek Chic", above, was picked for CAC Gold. However, I was turned down for about the 11th year in a row by another competition.

Thousand of artists apply for each and all of these shows. Many of us know each other somewhat. We are all "friends" on Facebook after all. Ha!

And thanks to Facebook, Blogword and Twitter there is a sharp public sting when we see our rejection obvious along with others' rejoicement. It can be hard.

It can also be hard to judge shows. I recently judged a show and one of the entrants was allowed in at the end of the judging, groan, immediately asking me if I had picked his entry. I hadn't. I knew the news hurt but I also knew I had a judging criteria from my own art perspective just like every judge has in other shows, big or small, national or local.

I don't have the answers to any of the above questions but I have learned entering competitions is VERY IMPORTANT and helps your career when things go well. They also tell you, with a winning entry, the level you are at. But they can't define us. We paint the way we paint because, like our handwriting, we can't change it. It is just what comes out of us, a need to express ourselves. Competitions, success of failure, mustn't mess with that.

I have also learned to expect NOTHING in terms of results.

I have also learned great things happen when you LEAST expect them.

I have also learned rejection hurts for a couple of hours no matter how hard you try to 'let it go' and acceptance puts you on top of the world for the same couple of hours.

Art competitions have been going on for centuries. Art is subjective. There isn't a formula for any of it and there probably is unfairness from time to time. Most of all, an art entry has to 'speak' to the judges amid a sea of entries. Who needs to see another David Leffel copyist?

My mentor told me a story I have never forgotten in one of his workshops: that he entered the same piece in a competition, rejected one year, and awarded a gold medal the next. He kept both letters on his mantelpiece, reject and accept, to remind him of the randomness of it all. What he did with the gold medal, well, I hope he hung it from a high beam so it caught the light.

I have learned to savor the good art competition moments, like dropping my painting off at CAC Gold yesterday. It felt good to sign in right under Mian Situ's name! It might be a long while before I sign under him again.

I am learning to be selective with my entry money. If a competition continues to return no results after years of trying, it is perhaps best to move on and spend your entry fee elsewhere. After all, these entry fees add up and no-one wants to be always an art bridesmaid at the same competition reception for years and years.

I am learning not to compare myself with other artists. Chose my own path and and keep on it. If Prince Charming is visiting another artist that day, giving her or him the winning glass slipper, be happy for that artist.

Thanks to life guru of many, Seth Godin, this week for his mostly timely piece The Tryanny of Being Picked:

IN THE END, let go of competition. If one is able to keep working hard daily at one's craft in a passionate way for a lifetime, putting it out there selectively, surely that is the prize? The rest cream on the cake.

Got Cream?
Daily Painting Demo
$200, free shipping

Saturday, March 19, 2011


GETTING READY...a few big pieces for my show, 365 Days of Drawing, opening Friday April 1st.

And a quiet piece I allowed myself to paint yesterday just for painting joy and rejvenation in the middle of all this corset madness.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Two to Tango?

It takes two to tango. And today I don't feel much like tango-ing. What do you do on days when you feel disappointment in results?

Class demo California Art Institute.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Phew...I did it, with some considerable help. My book is on its way to the printer in time for the show!! Cheers, clink! clink! All around. Here is the cover. Hope you like!

365 drawings drawn each day of 2010, many turned in to painting studies, made their way into a book with the help of a marvelous company called FLAUNT YOUR PHOTOS

I could NOT have done it without FYP, a company geared toward helping artists in particular (but other normal folks too!) do just what I did. It was painless too, I have to say. Mrs. Peggy Kinstler founded FYP and she is used to working with artists being married to master artist Everett Raymond Kinstler, N.A. Peggy's great art editing eye and vast publishing experience, was priceless. 365 sketches plus other year images AND text, found themselves nestled into the new pages of this book within 10 days or so! Thanks for working so hard for me Peggy. I have a new baby about to be born.

The book will be available for purchase in three different sizes and prices, 5"x5", 8'x8", and 12"x12".

Watch this spot for more info on how to purchase, and pricing.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I say a juicy vibrant tangerine will remind you why you wanted to start painting in the first place.

As much I try to keep those orange globes muted, I just can't hold back for long. I want them bright orange. Nothing else will do.

Demo this week, one on one instruction. How I enjoy that type of teaching.

GLOW, demo.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Hot dinners...Face of Ventura Project

Eloquent inventor Jerry English has done more things in his long healthy life than I have had hot dinners! He was a MUST for my FACE OF THE VENTURA with The Ventura Breeze

Publisher Sheldon Brown and I are just about to paint our tenth sitter, all from life in a single sitting, out of 52.

I must eat more hot dinners. It takes a lot of energy to paint handsome interesting people.

Jerry English

Portrait by Johanna Spinks

Gerald (Jerry) Dean English was the child of Alden Weslie and Doro- thy Ann English born at St. Johns Hospital in Oxnard in 1937. He spent his young life growing up on the west end of Ventura. He has traveled the world and came to realize that Ven- tura is the best place on Earth.

Jerry joined the U.S. Air Force in 1955 and attended technical school at Lowery Air Force Base in Denver Colora- do, where he studied munitions, demo- lition, and nuclear and thermal nuclear weapons. He was then sent to Germany where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechani- cal Engineering at the University of Mainz. During this time, Jerry raced motorcycles for the Adler Factory in Frankfurt, includ- ing the German Prix in 1958 at the Nuremburg Ring.

County as a private investigator. In 1983 he was employed by a company called Swat Viper where he provided seminars and training for SWAT teams in Califor- nia, Nevada and Arizona.

All his life he has felt giving back to the community, no matter how busy he was in his various professions, was most important. As a member of the Saint Patrick’s Parade committee and the Fair Parade committee, he enjoyed lending his talent as is needed.

Staying physically fit is crucial to enjoying the quality of life at 73 years young. Skating long distance is the

Johanna Spinks made everything very relaxing and enjoyable and it was definitely something I would do again!

Returning to Ventura in 1960, Jerry worked as an engineer at Raytheon, Gulf Western, MacDonald Douglas and the Atlas Missile Program. Needing a change, Jerry started his own business in 1964 in the marine industry, becoming a certified deep sea diver and earning an International Underwater Contractors License to maintain the offshore tanker moorings.

Having an adventurous spirit, Jerry decided to become a stuntman in 1975 and joined the Independent Stuntmen of Motion Pictures Group of Holly- wood. In 1982, Jerry created a company called Western Justice, in which he trained body guards and provided pro- tection for celebrities such as Pat Benitar, George Benson, and the Royal Family of Bruni, just to name a few. In conjunction with his businesses, he worked for Wells Fargo Investigative Services, and Gil Acosta Investigative Services of Orange

measure of condi- tioning for him. As an example, Jerry roller skated from Arcadia, Califor- nia to Las Vegas, Nevada and back in 72.6 hours! He endured 687 miles round trip in tem- peratures of 115 degrees. He enjoyed skating across

Death Valley when it was hot and still survived to enjoy another day in his be- loved, beautiful home town of Ventura.

We asked him what he likes best about living in Ventura?

What makes this town so unique is the friendly people that live here. Fur- thermore, Venturans fight to keep their heritage. You can feel it! Just walk down Main Street or walk on the beach and speak with people. And, of course surf- ing the beautiful Ventura beaches, Mav- ericks, Surfer’s Point is still the best spot to surf.

And how was the experience of having your portrait painted by Johanna?

The experience was a real pleasure. Johanna Spinks made everything very relaxing and enjoyable and it was defi- nitely something I would do again!

Monday, March 7, 2011

In the Pink

I am crazy for people with died pink hair. Just love to paint that. This was the model for my class last week. I discovered her walking around my studio complex and knew I had to paint that candyfloss fuchsia hair.



Pretty In Pink, Class demo
Oil on linen panel
$125, free shipping

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Flying by The Seat of Your Art Pants..Malibu Art Association Demo...

You really are flying by the seat of your Ralph Lauren pants and Jimmy Choo shoes (yeah, right!) when doing public demos - as was this one for the Malibu Art Association in CA, a great group of artists and my third appearance for them.

You never quite know what to expect. How will the room be (acoustics), how will the audience questions be (artists can ask questions that really make you stop in your painting demo tracks and have to think!), how will the light be? What will I forget to take? Will I be 'on' my game that day?

I try to prepare as best I can, taking my own lights, extension cords, chairs, backdrops, props. etc. double checking everything with a list....yes, I have learned the hard way. Demos are never just the two or three hours you are there. There is prep. work. And it is hell if you forget the zinc white or the model.

This demo was of a friend of mine who I have known since she was five so pressure was there too as you want do to something half decent - not just a stunt kinda thing

AS it turned out the room acoustics were not good and it really IS hard to shout as you paint, I discovered. Some demos do microphones, some do not. Remember, your back is to the audience as you paint. Not easy. My time was also cut short by 15 minutes suddenly at the end due to unforeseen circumstances in the room booking. But that 15 minutes of demo 'finish" time is worth about three hours of solid gold in normal art time.

So I go what I got being reminded why it does take certain 'energy' and most of all training in life painting to do these things. I am always grateful and honored to be asked to share my work and approach and the art folks at MAA were a delight as usual.